Feeding The Loving Soul Of A Relationship In Nagoya

Date for the foodies fancying a venture among the streets of Nagoya, for a taste of something different with their potential life partner while working out whether they truly have true love on their side.

Good for:

  • Culinary enthusiasts
  • Exploring a city from a different perspective

Quick points:

  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Subway travel and walking involved
  • Bilingual menus not always available

Fascinating differences exist between Japanese cities. Tokyo is the shiny business card of the country: clean, efficient and modern. Osaka, and its labyrinthine subways, is gritty and rough, but filled with chatty locals always up for a chat. Kyoto is the receptacle of memory, where a moment of magic can occur as a geiko rounds a corner in Miyagawa-cho or in the clattering of a Nishijin loom, weaving silk into kimono.

Nagoya, situated between the two main hubs of Kanto and Kansai, feels similar yet distinct from both. Wide, leafy, spotless streets connect a contemporary business district with international chains and local hide-outs. Sadly perceived as lacking the Instagrammable element, crowds of foreign tourists often pass by while traversing the golden route. However, this makes it an excellent destination for a romantic day trip, particularly for those whose dates have a good appetite. Because what Nagoya lacks in landmarks, it makes up for in creative cuisine.

And it begins with breakfast.

Breakfast: Ogura Toast

Okagaen’s Morning Set Comes With Boiled Egg Bread And Bean Paste

Recommended by a local traveller: “You must try the toast!” Okagaen’s “Morning Set” comes complete with boiled egg, bread and bean paste all for the price of a coffee.

The Nagoya “Morning Set” is a tasty local convention. Started in the 1950s by competing cafes in the textile district of Ichinomiya, customers were lured in with complimentary snacks with their coffee. Today, some shops serve miso soup, while others prepare onigiri. But the true Nagoya original breakfast is a slab of thick bread, smeared with sweet anko beans called Ogura Toast.

Many, if not all, cafes in Nagoya offer some form of morning set. Komeda Coffee, also endemic to the city, and its wa-fu style sister chain, Okagean serve theirs until 11am and have bilingual menus.

Add Whipped Cream To Your Toast For An Additional 80 Yen

Add whipped cream to your toast for an additional 80 yen, or an extra salty plum with your miso soup for 60!

Okagean Specialises In Japanese Sweets Great For Dates

Okagean specialises in Japanese sweets, so rather than coffee for breakfast, customers can enjoy fresh green tea.

Lunch: Kissa Mountain

Kissa, or traditional Japanese coffee shops, are always an adventure, usually of the charmingly retro kind. The internet buzz around Kissa Mountain and its idiosyncratic menu, famous for mixing spaghetti with fruit and whipped cream, can cause spikes of deep apprehension within those who prefer their lunch a little more adult and less sugary.

Not to fear! The family owned restaurant has plenty of “normal” pasta dishes on its menu, from meat-sauce to mushroom cream. The medium-level adventurous couple could try the Japanese style miso natto pilaf, or the Mexican alternative comprised of cactus.

Pilaf Lunch Date At Kissa Mountain

An example of the pilaf page from the comprehensive menu at Kissa Mountain. While one half of the date could enjoy the bacon, spinach and cream pilaf, the other could challenge themselves to the Ice Curry Mountain. Please send pictures.

Beans And Rice Meatball Curry Spaghetti And Cactus Chicken Pizza Rice

The sign-board in the entry-way advertises the deals of the day. Beans and rice, meatball curry spaghetti and cactus chicken pizza rice.

Strawberry Spaghetti Kissa Mountain Best Seller

Strawberry spaghetti is the best seller.

The restaurant has been open for over 50 years and its most popular dishes are the green tea spaghetti and the pasta topped with strawberries. The inspiration for these came from the grandfather and original owner of the cafe, whose legacy has been maintained, if not augmented, by his son and Mexican daughter-in-law.

Despite its diverse dining choices, Kissa Mountain is a pleasingly calm space to spend a relaxed and romantic lunch together. Turned wooden bannisters separate olive green vinyl booths; Mexican paintings decorate the walls; Showa tunes provide retro ambience; and lamps shed warm light.

A Quiet Dating Spot To Spend Time Together Inside Kissa Mountain

A quiet spot to spend time together: Inside Kissa Mountain on a weekday lunch.

The lunch-time regulars, mostly salary-men and university students, know which “spa” they want without looking at the menu. The food, dispatched quickly by the family members cooking together in the kitchen, lives up to the promise of the name “mountain”. Large sized coffees are default and cannonball sized mounds of rice half vanish within deep pools of curry. Easily accessed by subway and within easy distance of renowned dating spot, Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Kissa Mountain is a destination and an experience in itself to enjoy while in Nagoya.

Obake Curry Pitch Black Colouring Comes From Squid Ink

The pitch black colouring comes from squid ink to add a touch of spookiness, even if the ghost in the “obake” curry looks a little more like a panda.

Get A Handmade Souvenir Of Your Lunch From The Gatcha Gatcha Machine

For only 400 yen, get a handmade souvenir of your lunch from the gatcha gatcha machine.

Dinner: Miso Katsu

Nagoya errs on the side of strong when it comes to flavour and large when it comes to volume in its portion sizes. Some of its popular dinner-time dishes include, Sekai no Yamachan’s spicy chicken wings, the multi-flavoured experience of eating crispy hitsumabushi eel on rice, and, of course, the classic: miso katsu.

Katsumasa Miso Katsu Menu Comes With Refills Of Rice Soup And Cabbage

The smallest portion of miso katsu on the Katsumasa menu weighs in at 120 grams and comes with refills of rice, soup and cabbage.

Miso is a staple in Japanese cooking. This savoury sweet fermented paste is often consumed in soup, though it can also be spread over rice. Nagoya produces a thick, flavourful deep red variation, akamiso, from soybeans which takes years to brew. Katsu are pork cutlets, breaded and deep fried, and a western addition to Japan that became popular post-war. Some say customers at street food stalls in Nagoya combined the two, and the style took off in local restaurant Ajidokoro Kano, creating the soul food dish the city is now synonymous with.

Some restaurants serve the two together, while others separate them allowing the gourmet to determine the proportion of sauce to katsu. The akamiso paste is a little sweet and adds a layer of texture to the crunchy-on-the-outside-melting-on-the-inside pork.

As with the morning set, many smaller restaurants and izakaya serve miso katsu at night. Unfortunately many of the more colourful spots are smoking friendly though chain restaurants such as Katsumasa and Yabaton, or the aforementioned birthplace of miso katsu, provide a filling feed with bilingual menus and without ash-trays making them a little more date friendly, if less colourful, for most.

Insights Into Compatibility Through Food Exploration

Nagoya is famous for its food culture. While Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and other centres in Japan attract visitors to monuments and attractions, curious couples can spend a day exploring cafes and restaurants, avoiding the crowds and gaining insights into a different aspect of the country and its unique culinary creations. This food focused date can open up some glorious insights into how compatible the two of you are, for being a core thing to life for many couples, with the Nagoya backdrop adding a nice hint of difference and exploration to keep things fun for those who have never visited before.

Kasugai Where Time Freezes And The Fried Chicken Is Top Notch

喜安, in Kasugai. Venture inside and discover a world where time freezes and the fried chicken is top notch.

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